technology

Prototype Global Disability Rights Library Launches

Posted on 14 June 2011. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, News, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Washington, DC – Disability rights advocates around the globe can now access a newly launched tool for finding the knowledge and toolkits they need: the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) at http://gdrl.org .  A prototype “test” version of this library is being made available both on-line and off-line so that users can share feedback with the GDRL team on improving the library.

The GDRL is a collaborative effort between the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) and the University of Iowa’s WiderNet Project with funding support from USAID.  It is working to bring the best materials on disability rights and the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to developing countries, particularly to locations with limited internet access.

“We are excited to be able to begin sharing the prototype version of the Global Disability Rights Library with the public because we need everyone’s help in making it an outstanding resource,” says Andrea Shettle, GDRL program manager at USICD.  “Disability rights advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders in developing countries deserve easier access to a rich body of digital knowledge.  These websites, videos, and electronic publications can support their work in improving the lives of people with disabilities in developing countries.  The GDRL is still very much a work in progress.  We need disabled people’s
organizations, service providers, government personnel, families, and people with disabilities around the world to start using it and telling us how they want us to improve the library.”

Under the current USAID funding grant, 60 organizations, universities, and agencies in developing countries with limited internet access will receive a free off-line version of the digital library in an eGranary.  An eGranary is a hard drive with an extensive collection of digital resources.  An eGranary also has an interface that emulates the appearance and function of the web without
requiring actual internet access. So far, a total of 27 deployment sites have been selected. This includes four locations in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Peru, and Zambia that will join on-line users in closely reviewing the prototype version of the library.  The GDRL team will use feedback from the first four deployment sites, along with feedback from on-line users, to improve the library before disseminating it via eGranaries to the other deployment sites.  Another 33 deployment sites will be selected after the final September 1, 2011 application deadline.  An on-line application form is at http://www.widernet.org/digitallibrary/GDRLSiteSelection/ .

People who do have internet access can now visit the on-line version of the prototype GDRL at

http://gdrl.org

All GDRL users are encouraged to share their feedback and suggestions for additional digital resources by sending an email to gdrl@usicd.org or to librarian@gdrl.org

Read more about the GDRL project at:

http://www.usicd.org/index.cfm/global-disability-rights-library

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Call for Applications to Receive Global Disability Rights Library

Posted on 12 January 2011. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Nominations or Applications, Capacity Building and Leadership, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Opportunities, Resources, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

MEDIA RELEASE

Call for Applications to Receive Global Disability Rights Library
January 7, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andrea Shettle, Program Manager: Global Disability Rights Library
Telephone: (877) 535-0506
Email: gdrl@usicd.org

Washington, DC – The Global Disability Rights Library project announces a call for organizations to apply to receive a free digital Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL).  Applications are open to disabled people’s organizations, universities, government agencies, and other organizations in developing countries.   Sixty organizations will receive the digital library to empower them to disseminate valuable disability rights knowledge and toolkits to their communities.

The goal of the GDRL project is to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in developing countries.  The project uses an innovative off-line digital storage technology to deliver digital resources to people beyond the reach of the internet.  The electronic library will be stored in a hard drive, called an “eGranary unit” that also contains an interface emulating the look and functioning of the web but without requiring actual internet connectivity.  Users will include disabled people’s organizations (DPOs), decision makers, government agencies, individual advocates, and others who cannot easily download information from the web.  Read more about the GDRL project at:

http://www.usicd.org/index.cfm/global-disability-rights-library

The GDRL is a collaborative effort between the U.S. International Council on Disabilities and the University of Iowa’s WiderNet Project with support from USAID to bring the best materials on disability rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to developing countries.

Ideal deployment site candidates will have a demonstrated commitment to promoting and facilitating disability rights.  Successful applicants will have the organizational capacity to become a hub for disseminating disability rights information and will be inclusive of a diverse disability community. Interested organizations are urged to review the application and full eligibility criteria posted on WiderNet’s website at:

http://www.widernet.org/digitallibrary/GDRLSiteSelection

Individuals and organizations with internet access are encouraged to please assist in reaching out to organizations with poor internet connectivity to assist them with the application process.  There will be several selection rounds.  Applicants not accepted in an early selection round will be immediately rolled over into subsequent selection rounds.  Candidates are encouraged to apply early.  Please do not wait until the final deadline.

Apply by March 1, 2011, to be considered for deployment by June 30, 2011
Apply by September 1, 2011, to be considered for deployment by December 31, 2011
Apply by May 1, 2012, to be considered for deployment by August 31, 2012

Questions about the application process or eligibility criteria should be directed to gdrl@usicd.org.  Applicants who cannot use email also may reach us by post mail at

Andrea Shettle, MSW, MA
Program Manager, Global Disability Rights Library
United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD)
1012-14th Street, NW, Suite 105
Washington, DC 20005
United States of America

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Training Opportunity: Digital Storytelling Project, June 8-12, 2009, for African Youth with Disabilities and Allies

Posted on 16 April 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Arts, Call for Nominations or Applications, Capacity Building and Leadership, Children, Education and Training Opportunities, Families, Funding, Media & Journalism, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology, Women, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Secretariat of the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities (SADPD)
APC-Africa-Women and Women’sNet
invite you to
Submit an application to participate in a Digital Storytelling Project
Application DUE 3 May 2009
Workshop dates 8 -12 June 2009

“It’s in the telling of our stories that we discover how much of our experiences and learning we have in common with others. Stories make our connection with others and with the world real. They weave together our individual experiences to reveal a picture of a community, a group and a country.”

Introduction

The Secretariat of the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities (SADPD) in partnership with APC-Africa-Women and Women’sNet, invite you to submit an application to participate in a digital storytelling workshop. We are inviting people living and working in Africa who would like to empower others and affect change by documenting their journey and telling their story. Applicants must be:

(1) parents/carers of children with disabilities and youth
(2) young people with disabilities
(3) people working in organizations to promote the rights of children and youth with disabilities e.g. Advocates, students, CBR workers, teachers, journalists, information activists, content developers, programme officer/managers,

Participants will develop short videos reflecting the experiences of parents and youth with disabilities in particular with regards to challenges and successes in accessing inclusive education, health, employment and acceptance in their communities and country. Participants will also examine the power dimensions of story-telling and how we retain the authenticity of our own voice, as well as the voices of the people whose stories we document, preserve or disseminate.

Parents, youth and individuals working in the field have many stories to tell, but never have the time, knowledge, equipment and space to reflect, understand and tell their own stories, share their responses, understandings and experiences.

There is a large amount of information on the internet but very little that reflects the lived realities of those affected and people working in the field of disability in Africa.

The workshop aims to:
• document real-life stories of a cross-section of parents and youth with disabilities as well as those working in the field
• empower people to tell their own stories, while at the same time create a powerful advocacy tool that can be used in their country and beyond.
• develop Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills,
• enable parents and youth with disabilities to share and network amongst each other.

More about the workshop

In the workshop we will explore people’s own stories and learn how to develop a story line, use photo’s, video clips, and drawings to tell your story in an effective way.

There is space for twelve applicants who will participate in a five day digital storytelling workshop, 8 -12 June 2009.

In the month before the workshop delegates will need to join an online study group, collect content for their story (pictures etc) and begin to learn some of the software.

At the workshop participants will learn to use computer software and other equipment necessary for making a short (3-5 minutes) multimedia digital story.

The digital storytelling workshop is hands-on and computer intensive, requiring commitment and willingness to develop a short, personal story; learn new software and edit a short digital video of five minutes in length.

Digital storytelling is not like writing a formal document; it’s more like creative, autobiographical writing. To see an example, check out the website
http://www.takebackthetech.net
http://www.silencespeaks.org

In order to be eligible to participate, you must be able to attend all five days of the workshop, and be able to travel to South Africa to arrive by 7 June, departing 13 June 2009. Travel and accommodation will be sponsored by the SADPD. You must be willing to allow your story, or part of it, to be used in advocacy by SADPD and APC WNSP’s Take Back the Tech campaign. The workshop will be conducted in ENGLISH so other language speakers must have a good proficiency in English. Sign language and French / Portugese interpretation will be provided if necessary (Please motivate for this in application form).

This workshop is a chance to learn new skills and tell your story in a creative and visual format. It’s a lot of work . . . AND a lot of fun.

Copyright:
All stories are owned by the person who made them. The story is your story and will be licensed under a Creative Commons license. We are open to discussing a formula that respects your privacy and confidentiality should you be uncomfortable with the widespread sharing and dissemination of some parts of your story. We would like your stories to be part of a public effort promote the rights and quality of life for children and youth with disabilities and their families.

Who Should Apply?
• We are looking for stories told by parent, youth and individuals working in the field of Disability.
• Applicants must be living and working in Africa (preference will be given to women)
• Applicants must preferably be based in an organisation, institution or network, but individuals will also be considered.
• Youth should between the ages of 18 – 35
• The training is in English. Participants must speak and understand English but are welcome to produce their story in any language they choose. If however you require translation into French and Portuguese please motivate in your application.
• The story you tell has to be about you and your experiences. It can be about situations or events but it must be a personal story told in the first person
• The workshop requires a basic level of computer literacy.
• Applicants must be willing to avail themselves for future advocacy work or training in digital stories in their country.

Instructions:
Please complete the form below and email it as a file attachment to Nafisa Baboo nafisa@africandecade.co.za
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS is 3 May 2009. If you have any questions, feel free to email or Skype Nafisa on nafisababoo. Incomplete forms will not be considered for selection.

APPLICATION FORM

Date:
Name:
Address:
Country:
Organisation:
Phone:
Fax:
Email:
Age:
Date of birth:
Disability:
Support needs (Enlarge print, Braille, translation etc)

Please describe in a few sentences the main point of the story you would like to tell.

What issues does your story address?

What do you hope to get out of the digital storytelling workshop?

Have you talked to anyone about the story you’d like to share, or is this the first time you’ll be talking about it in a group?

If this is your first time talking about it, what do you think it’ll be like for you to share the story with a group of people ?

Please write a draft of the story you’d like to share, below. It should be no more than 500 words (about one and ½ pages, double-spaced, typed). Your story should be written in the first-person. Note: If you’d like to see examples of other people’s digital stories, you can go to http://www.silencespeaks.org or http://www.womensnet.org.za or http://www.takebackthetech.net

Please briefly describe to us what you use computers for.

What is your familiarity with the following Software Programs and Processes? Please put an “x” to the right of the statements that most apply.

Using a PC (Windows Operating System) or a Macintosh Computer
I know nothing
I know next to nothing
I can get around fairly easily
I’m really comfortable
I know a lot

Scanning Photos or Other Images
I know nothing
I know next to nothing
I can get around fairly easily
I’m really comfortable
I know a lot

Adobe Photoshop
I know nothing
I know next to nothing
I can get around fairly easily
I’m really comfortable
I know a lot

Adobe Premiere
I know nothing
I know next to nothing
I can get around fairly easily
I’m really comfortable
I know a lot

Do you know how to (please mark YES or NO)
Open software applications YES/NO
Save documents and find them again YES/NO
How to use a mouse, cut and paste, drag and drop. YES/NO

It would be useful to know the following applications – Microsoft office or Open office, and using web browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.

There are a limited number of spaces in the workshop. So please note that the submission of an application is no guarantee that APC-Africa-Women will be able to support you to attend. Successful applicants will be notified 5th May 2009.

Thank You!

INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS

About the Secretariat of the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities
The African Decade of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed by the African Union for the period 1999 – 2009. The main goals of the African Decade are to raise awareness about the situation of the estimated 60-80 million persons with disabilities in the region and to identify solutions tailored to the African Experience that enhance participation, equality and empowerment of Africans with Disabilities. The overall aims and priorities of the Decade are stipulated in an AU- Continental Plan of Action. A Secretariat was established to facilitate the realization of these objectives.
The Secretariat is an international Non Governmental Organisation, established in 2004 by all the major Regional Disabled People’s Organisations to give a new dynamism to the implementation of the Continental Plan of Action. It is hosted, at the request of African Union by South Africa in Cape-Town where its headquarters are located. The mission of the Secretariat of the African Decade is to empower Governments, DPO´s, Decade steering committee’s (DSC) and development organizations to work in partnership to include disability and persons with disabilities into policies and programs in all sectors of society. The strategy of action of the Secretariat is to
• Build the capacities of DPOs, persons with disabilities who are most vulnerable and the Decade Steering Committees to enable them to advocate and lobby their respective government so that they integrate disability into all their development processes.
• Advocate and lobby for mainstreaming of disability in the policies and programmes.
• Raise awareness around the main issues related to persons with disabilities in society.
Http://www.sadpd.org

About APC-Africa-Women

APC-Africa-women is the African regional network of the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP). APC WNSP is a global network of women who support women networking for social change and women’s empowerment, through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). We promote gender equality in the design, development, implementation, access to and use of ICTs and in the policy decisions and frameworks that regulate them. We have a special focus on redressing inequities based on women’s social or ethnic background – through the provision of research, training, information, and support activities in the field of ICT policy, skills-sharing in the access and use of ICT, and women’s network-building.
Http://www.apcwomen.org

APC-Africa-Women hosts Women’s Electronic Network Training (WENT) workshops every two years. WENT workshops aim to build the skills and capacities of women and their organisations to utilise ICTs in women’s empowerment, social development work and policy advocacy. In 2003 participants at WENT Africa developed skills in the repackaging of information through the convergence of old and new technologies using radio and in building websites using a Content Management System. Weaving through the training were sessions on gender and ICT policy issues. In 2005 WENT Africa was hosted in Kampala and using a two-track system, trained women technicians in the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and women managers of NGOs in technology planning. More information can be viewed at http://wentafrica.blogspot.com/

About Women’sNet
Women’sNet works to advance gender equality and justice in South Africa through the use of ICTs by providing training and facilitating content dissemination and creation that supports women, girls, and women’s and gender organisations and networks to take control of their own content and ICT use. The organisation is one of the few working on technology for social change in South Africa, and the first to do this from a gender perspective our work has focused on technology for purpose – strengthening women’s organisations specifically and civil society in general – to use ICTs for achieving gender justice.
Http://www.womensnet.org.za



This announcement was disseminated on the EENET Eastern Africa listserver. All applications and inquiries should please be directed to Nafisa Baboo nafisa@africandecade.co.za , NOT to We Can Do.

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RESOURCE: Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments

Posted on 10 November 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Resources, technology | Tags: , , , , , , |

A contact at this organization sent me the following blurb; We Can Do readers are invited to explore their web site at http://www.gaates.org/ for more detail.

Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is a leading not-for-profit international organization which brings together experts in accessibility of the Built, Virtual and Social Environments. GAATES has an international presence in 6 Global Regions: Asia-Pacific, Middle East, North America, South America, Europe and Africa. GAATES maintains a database of international experts with extensive and diverse experience in universal design and accessibility of built and virtual environments. Our expert professionals include: architects; engineers; accessible user interface technology specialists; website designers; accessibility auditors/surveyors; and experts in human rights and implementation of the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Please visit our site at www.gaates.org for more information on our organization.



Thank you to GAATES for alerting me to their organization. They are now also added to the extensive blogroll listing at the very bottom of every page at We Can Do.

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CALL FOR PAPERS: Impact of Nanoscale Science on Disability

Posted on 29 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Cross-Disability, Disability Studies, Health, Inclusion, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Opportunities, Poverty, technology, Water and Sanitation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Call for papers On the impact of nanoscale science and technology on disability, community and rehabilitation.
[NOTE from We Can Do editor: The deadline for abstracts is October 30, 2008; full articles can be submitted later, for authors whose abstracts are selected. We Can Do readers will note that the areas of suggested possible focus may include the impact of nanotechnology on people with disabilities in low-income countries; on international development; and on relevant topics such as water and sanitation, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and others. Inquiries and abstracts should be directed to the journal, NOT We Can Do.]

For a special issue of the International Journal on Disability, Community & Rehabilitation (IJDCR) (http://www.ijdcr.ca/copyright.shtml)

Guest Editor: Gregor Wolbring, Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary. <gwolbrin@ucalgary.ca>

Invitation
Nanoscale science and technology, while still in its infancy, describes a rapidly growing sphere of enquiry, with many and varied implications for the disability field. To establish a ‘benchmark’ of the current state of knowledge and conceptual understanding, the Editors of IJDCR decided a special issue should be devoted to the topic. Background information and potential topics are presented below.

We invite potential contributors, regardless of fields of study (discipline), to submit 250-word Abstracts that articulate the conceptual arguments and knowledge base to be covered in a critical analysis on some aspect of the impact of nanoscale science and technology on disability, community and/or rehabilitation. Please submit abstracts to the Guest Editor via e-mail by 30 October, 2008.

From selected abstracts, we will request full articles of 3000-5000 words (excluding figures and tables) of original research and scholarship on a range of topics. Note that an invitation to submit an article does not guarantee its publication. Every submitted article will be subject to blind peer review and recommendations arising.

Background
Nanotechnology in all its meanings allows for, among other things, the manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale and enables a new paradigm of science and technology that sees different technologies converging at the nanoscale namely:

  • nanoscience and nanotechnology,
  • biotechnology and biomedicine, including genetic engineering,
  • information technology, including advanced computing and communications,
  • cognitive science (neuro-engineering),
  • synthetic biology;

hence, the designation “NBICS” (nano-bio-info-cogno-synbio).

Many lists of anticipated nanoproducts exist (Institute of Nanotechnology 2005;Kostoff et al. 2006). Applications for NBICS products are envisioned in areas such as the environment, energy, water, weapons and other military applications, globalization, agriculture, and health (e.g., more efficient diagnostics and genetic testing, cognitive enhancement; life extension and enhancing human performance in general) (M.Roco 2003). Many believe that advances in NBICS hold the key for extreme life extension to the level of immortality and the achievement of morphological (Anders Sandberg 2001) and genomic freedom(Wolbring 2003). NBICS-medicine is envisioned by some to have the answer to global problems of disease and ill medical and social health. Others argue for the pursuit of ‘morphological freedom’ (Anders Sandberg 2001)–allowing the human body to move beyond typical functioning of the species. Disabled people are often highlighted as the beneficiaries of NBICS-medicine products. NBICS applications and the selling of NBICS health products focuses mostly on offering disabled people medical solutions (prevention or cure/normative adaptation) and might move towards transhumanist solutions (augmentation, enhancement of the human body) but rarely offers social solutions (adaptation of the environment, acceptance, societal cures of equal rights and respect). Many NBICS applications/products for disabled people are envisioned and are under development(Wolbring 2005).

We chose this topic for an issue of IJDCR because of how the discourses around these new and emerging nanoscale science and technologies are emerging and their potential impact on people with disabilities, the communities linked to them and/or practitioners as well as others. Consumers and researchers linked to the disability discourse are involved will shape the positive or negative consequences for everyone involved.

Nanotechnology and NBICS have an impact on disabled people in at least four main ways.

Impact of NBICS on disabled people (Wolbring 2006)

NBICS may develop tools to adapt the environment in which disabled people live and to give disabled people tools that would allow them to deal with environmental challenges. This side of S&T would make the life of disabled people more liveable without changing the identity and biological reality of the disabled person

NBICS may develop tools that would diagnose the part of disabled people’s biological reality seen by others as deficient, defect, impaired and ‘disabled’ thus allowing for preventative measures

NBICS may develop tools that would eliminate that portion of disabled people’s biological reality seen by others as deficient, defect, impaired and ‘disabled’.

NBICS may be a target for – and an influence upon – the discourses, concepts, trends and areas of action that impact disabled persons.

Discourses:

  • The discourse around the term human security
  • The religious discourse
  • The politics of biodiversity
  • The politics of inequity
  • The politics of the ethics discourse.
  • The politics of law:
  • The politics of raising the acceptance level for a given technology
  • The politics of setting goals and priorities
  • The politics of language
  • The politics of self perception and identity (Body politics)
  • The politics of red herrings
  • The politics of interpreting International treaties
  • The politics of governance
  • The Politics of evaluation, measuring, analysis, and outcome tools

Concepts:

  • Self identity security
  • Ability security
  • Cultural identity/diversity
  • Morphological freedom and morphological judgement(Anders Sandberg 2001)
  • Freedom of choice and tyranny of choice
  • Duty to fix oneself
  • Duty to know
  • Parental responsibility
  • Societal responsibility

Trends:

  • Change in the concepts of health, disease and ‘disability’/’impairment’
  • The appearance of enhancement medicine and the acceptance of beyond species-typical functioning
  • Moving from curative to enhancement medicine; decrease in curative medicine and the appearance of the transhumanist/enhancement burden of disease
  • Moving from human rights to sentient rights
  • Moving from morphological freedom to morphological judgement
  • The appearance of the techno poor disabled and impaired
  • Moving from freedom of choice to tyranny of choice judgement

Areas of Action:

  • Nanotechnology/NBIC for development
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and the UN Millennium Development Goals
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and global medical and social health
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and accessibility
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and law
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and water and sanitation
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and disaster management
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and weapons/war
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and ethics/philosophy
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and social science/anthropology
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and community
  • Nanotechnology/NBIC and networking

All of the above discourses, concepts, trends and areas of actions impact on disabled people[1] and others.

Potential contributors to this Special Issue might consider areas from the above table or one of the following topics:

1. What are the potential positive and negative impacts of envisioned nanoscale science and technology products and research and development on:

  • disabled people,
  • the community around them
  • practitioners, consumers and researchers linked to the disability discourse
  • community rehabilitation and the rehabilitation field in general
  • inclusive education and the education of disabled people in general
  • employability of disabled people
  • citizenship of disabled people
  • body image of disabled people
  • medical and social health policies and their impact on disabled people
  • health care for disabled people
  • the elderly
  • disabled people in low income countries
  • laws related to disabled people such as the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities
  • the concept of personhood
  • concept of health and health care
  • the measure of disability adjusted life years and other measurements used to guide health care dollar allocation
  • quality of life assessment

2. What are the potential positive and negative impacts of the new social philosophy of transhumanism that is seen as being enabled by nanoscale science and technology products and research and development?
3. What impacts of potential nanoscale science and technology products and research and development onto disabled people will impact other marginalized groups?

For more information about the International Journal of Disability, Community & Rehabilitation (IJDCR) please go to http://www.ijdcr.ca.

References
Anders Sandberg. Morphological Freedom — Why We not just Want it, but Need it. 2001. <http://www.nada.kth.se/~asa/Texts/MorphologicalFreedom.htm>

Institute of Nanotechnology (2005). Research Applications And Markets In Nanotechnology In Europe 2005 <http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reportinfo.asp?report_id=302091&t=t&cat_id=4>

Kostoff, Ronald et al. “The seminal literature of nanotechnology research.” Journal of Nanoparticle Research (2006): 1-21. <http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s11051-005-9034-9>

M.Roco, W. Bainbridge eds. Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science. 2003. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht Hardbound. <http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/Report/NBIC_report.pdf> [PDF format]

Wolbring, G. “SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND THE TRIPLE D (DISEASE, DISABILITY, DEFECT).” Ed. William Sims Bainbridge Mihail C.Roco National. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 2003. 232-43<http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/> <http://www.bioethicsanddisability.org/nbic.html>

Wolbring, G (2005). HTA Initiative #23 The triangle of enhancement medicine, disabled people, and the concept of health: a new challenge for HTA, health research, and health policy Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Health Technology Assessment Unit, Edmonton, Alberta Canada <http://www.ihe.ca/documents/hta/HTA-FR23.pdf> [PDF format]

Wolbring, G (2006). Scoping paper on Nanotechnology and disabled people. Center for Nanotechnology in Society Arizona State University [On-line]. <http://cns.asu.edu/cns-library/documents/wolbring-scoping%20CD%20final%20edit.doc> [Word format]

——————————————————————————–
[1] The term ‘disabled people’, as used here, reflects the way in which environmental factors impact on the ability of individuals with sensory, motor, cognitive or other variations to participate in society, consistent with its usage by Disabled Peoples’ International.



Thank you to Gregor Wolbring for submitting this announcement for publication at We Can Do.

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Report on Seminar on Challenges and Hopes of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

Posted on 15 September 2008. Filed under: Capacity Building and Leadership, Deaf, Events and Conferences, Inclusion, News, technology | Tags: , , , , , , |

In late August, a seminar was held in Pakistan entitled “Challenges and Hopes: Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in the 21st century,” sponsored by Danishkadah, an organization for the empowerment of leaders with disabilities.

Lectures were delivered on topics such as cochlear implants; sign language; removing barriers from the environment; assistive technology in education; information technology in developing countries; and others.

The Danishkadah web site has a report summarizing the highlights of what speakers said at:

http://www.danishkadah.org.pk/activities/events/080830-CH/program.html



We Can Do learned about this seminar report via an email from Ghulam Nabi Nizamani.

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CONFERENCE: Global Alliance for ICT and Development, Oct 21-24, 2008, Yerevan, Armenia

Posted on 11 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Events and Conferences, Opportunities, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

[Note: this is not a disability-specific conference. However, it could be an opportunity to introduce a disability perspective to non-disabled participants. Inquire directly with the conference organizers, NOT We Can Do, regarding options for making the conference accessible to people with disabilities or other inquiries.]

Title: Global Innovation Forum for Education and Development
Organized by: UN GAID, UN e-Leaders Committee, Athgo International, Ministry of Economy – the Republic of Armenia

Location: Yerevan, Armenia

Focus: ICT innovation in the areas of access, connectivity, and relevant local content development

Dates: October 21-24, 2008

SUMMARY
The Global Innovation Forum for Education and Development provides a platform for several hundred young people across the globe to advance their causes toward achieving the MDGs through ICT. Area experts from the private and public sectors and selected young participants are invited to showcase their successful ICT practices and highlight new innovations and new ground-breaking business models and methods that successfully address the development needs in different societies.

The forum is set to encourage young people to get engaged in, and develop and propose new ICT initiatives that innovatively advance local communities in various emerging regions.

First, the forum will concentrate on the basic tools that facilitate the creation of innovative solutions, particularly, systematic and quality educational opportunities. Currently, proper education is not widely available in developing regions, thus slowing innovation and hampering the implementation of existing ICT. Consequently, the forum will focus on ways to improve educational opportunities and quality through ICT, specifically focusing on building ICT skills among young people. To this end the impact of access, connectivity and relevant local content in meeting educational and analytical needs will be examined and methods to overcome the obstacles discussed and presented.

The second part of the forum will highlight some of the best practices in the areas of ICT access and connectivity with a special attention on the impact of appropriate local content to ensure sustainable development.

Each participant will have the opportunity to engage policy makers, experts and his/her peers to draft innovative solutions to ICT development and implementation challenges. On the final day, the young participants will showcase their plans in innovation panels. The proposals will be evaluated by leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society, and will be showcased at the conference closing ceremonies.

Panel focus and objectives
Panels will focus on three ICT elements (access, connectivity and local content) in two different contexts:
1. Education for Innovation in the 3 ICT elements
2. Innovation for Development in the 3 ICT elements
The panels will also include discussions about innovative financing for new innovations and demonstrate creative ways of including young people in the process of innovation and implementation.

Expert Panels: in each of the panels, the discussions should include and highlight the benefits that ICT brings to the educational sector (examples: access to global databases for new ideas and existing best practices, complex problem solving, group project collaborations, extensive teacher training through simulations, education system management, etc.), which in return heightens the innovation (more talented ICT professionals, increased demand, modernization) that ultimately leads to sustainable development (ICT adaptation and systematic usage, simplification of economic complexities, diffusion of new tools in various sectors of economy, new partnerships, entrepreneurial developments)
1. Access: Education – Innovation – Development
2. Connectivity: Education – Innovation – Development
3. Local Content: Education – Innovation – Development

Broad questions to address:
Education
• What are the biggest challenges to building capacity in LDCs, especially for young people?
• How do you encourage human capital investment in ICT, without guaranteeing job growth?
• How can we ensure that ICT education is continual and does not become obsolete in a world where technology changes weekly?
• How is the educational process improved by ensuring access/connectivity/local content to ICT? Is the efficiency element the biggest winner or is it the enhancement in knowledge sharing that takes the prize home?
Innovation
• How do we bring the richness of Web 2.0 to LDCs in a cost effective way?
• What are the missing resources to translating innovation in access, content and connectivity into results?
• How best developed integrated ICT networks in areas that lack the basic infrastructure, namely power resources and skilled human capital?
• How can we, using existing and already deployed hardware in LDCs, SIDS, and rural areas, improve ICT access?
• What are the latest developments in ICT connectivity that allow for wider areas of coverage?
• In areas impacted by natural disasters, how does content help the recovery process?
• How can we improve access and connectivity in areas where infrastructure has been damaged by disaster?
Development
• How does devoting more resources to ICT4D help solve development issues such as governance, health, and climate change?
• How does advancement in ICT translate into development progress in the above areas?
• How do we encourage and promote innovation in LDCs, especially where the benefits of education are diminished by brain drain?
• How do we address problems like brain drain and other barriers to encouraging and supporting human capital investment in ICT fields?
• How do we increase absorption capacity, especially in LDCs where other development challenges have yet to be resolved?

GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR ICT AND DEVELOPMENT SECRETARIAT
Room DC1-1464, One United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10017
Telephone: (1-212) 963-5796 Fax: (1-917) 367-4340
e-mail address: gaid@un-gaid.org Website address: www.un-gaid.org



We Can Do received this conference announcement via the Global Partnership for Disability and Development email discussion list.

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FORUM: Disability Rights Treaty and ICT Standards

Posted on 15 April 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, Opportunities, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies
An Advocacy Initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development

In conjunction with the

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION

INVITATION

Joint ITU and G3ict Forum 2008
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Challenges and Opportunities for ICT Standards

Monday, April 21, 2008
ITU Headquarters, Geneva

Please find a detailed agenda for the Forum on the subsequent pages of this invitation.

For further information, please contact:
Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Director of External Relations, G3ict
By Phone: +1 404-446-4160 By E-mail: fcesabianchi@g3ict.com

Advanced registration kindly requested

Introduction
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is one of the fastest human rights treaties ever adopted. It was developed with the active participation of country delegations and NGOs representing persons with disabilities, and includes a number of detailed mandates related to accessible and assistive Information and Communication and Information Technologies (ICTs).

Today, ICT devices such as personal computers, fixed and mobile telephones and television are widespread, with over one billion people, globally, having access to the Internet. An increasing number of applications and services for e-commerce, e-government, transportation, public services, health services, cultural life and leisure are delivered electronically. However many of these services are developed without consideration of the needs of the 10 per cent of the world population with disabilities. This directly impacts the rights of these persons. The Forum will explore the likely impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the evolution of ICT standards with the active participation of industry, Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), NGOs, and other interested parties. It is addressed to leaders overseeing accessibility standards issues, representatives from the industry, SDOs, NGOs representing persons with disabilities, research institutions, assistive technology developers, governments and academia.

Objectives
* Review existing and in-progress technology standards and standardization of product development methodologies.
* Discuss the role of public policy and procurement in support of standardization and the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
* Identify follow-up actions to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Expected Outcome of Meeting
Review and document the areas of standardization which match the mandates of the Convention and explore critical gaps. Receive feedback and suggestions from industry, policymakers and NGOs to explore how they can best support the work of SDOs in fostering greater accessibility of ICTs.

Information and Documentation
Registration for this event will be carried out exclusively online at the following URL:
http://itu.int/ITU-T/worksem/accessibility/200804/registration.html

ITU-T Web site for the event: http://itu.int/ITU-T/worksem/accessibility/200804

G3ict Web site: www.g3ict.com

ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland (Rue de VarembÈ 2)

AGENDA

8:30 ñ 9:00 Registration
9:00 ñ 10:00 Opening Session

Session Chair: Pierre-AndrÈ Probst, Chairman ITU-T Study Group 16

* Welcome address, Malcolm Johnson, Director, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector
* Remarks, Yury Grin, Deputy to the Director, Telecommunication Development Sector (BDT)
* Importance of accessible ICTs to developing countries, ITU Standardization Development Sector (TBC)
* Greetings from G3ict supporting organizations
* The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the context of global market demographics, Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict
* Latest developments in harmonization and standardization of accessible and assistive ICTs and the SWG-A standards inventory, JosÈe Auber and Alex Li, ISO/IEC SWG-A

10:00 ñ 11:00 Session 1 – Human interfaces: design for accessible ICTs.
Recent evolution of accessibility features and standards, standards supporting assistive technologies, gaps, and opportunities.

Session Chair: Whitney Quesenbery, President, Usability Professionalsí Association
* ISO work on Ergonomics for accessible ICTs, Tom Stewart, Chairman, TC 159/ SC†4, “Ergonomics of human-system interaction”

* Pluggable user interfaces and virtual AT and RTF initiative: a new approach to user interface, Gregg Vanderheiden, Ph.D., Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chair, INCITS/V2 and Vice-chair, ISO/IEC, JTC 1/SC35
* ETSI Human Factor activities in the European context, Stephen Furner, Chairman, ETSI Technical Committee Human Factors
* Designing for universal accessibility, Bill Curtis-Davidson, Business Development and Solutions Leader, IBM Worldwide Human Ability and Accessibility Center

11:00 ñ 11:15 Coffee break

11:15 ñ 12:30 Session 2 – Accessible contents and services: addressing information deprivation
W3C initiatives, globalization of web standardization efforts, issues in ensuring compliance with accessibility standards (lack of awareness, speed of technology development, lack of training of web developers etc.); digital television and digital radio opportunities.

Session Chair: Eric Velleman, Director, BartimÈus Accessibility Foundation

* An analysis of the effects of content deprivation, Martin Gould, Director of Research and Technology, National Council on Disability
* DAISY Consortium, Hiroshi Kawamura, President, DAISY Consortium
* Web Accessibility Initiative, WAI/W3C, Judy Brewer, Director, Web Accessibility Initiative, World Wide Web Consortium (WAI/W3C) (via Web cast from Beijing, P.R. China)
* IPTV standardization, features and gaps, Clive Miller, Technical Broadcasting and Engineering Consultant, RNIB

12:30 ñ 14:00 Lunch break and knowledge fair

14:00 ñ 15:00 Session 3 – Mobility: Wireless Devices and Phones, accessibility and assistive functionalities.

Session Chair: Jim Tobias, President, Inclusive Technologies

* A mobile operatorís perspective in Japan, Yoshinobu Nakamura, NTT DoCoMo
* Windows Mobile, Sean Hayes, Incubation Lab Accessibility Business Unit, Microsoft
* Open source opportunities for accessibility and assistive functionalities – Android, Clayton Lewis, Ph..D., Professor of Computer Science, Scientist in Residence, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, University of Colorado
* Perspectives from hand-sets manufacturer (TBC)

15:00 ñ 16:00 Session 4 – Product development methodologies.
Ensuring that products are designed with accessibility features at an early stage, use of universal design methodologies.

Session Chair: Chiara Giovannini, Program Manager, European Association Representing Consumers in Standardization (ANEC)

* ITU-T SG 16 work on accessibility guidelines in standards, Gunnar Hellstrˆm, ITU
* Good practices perspective: development methodologies can take into account accessibility, Roman Longoria, Vice President, Computer Associates
* Extension of ISO 9000 product quality standards for accessibility in products, Sean McCurtain, Head, Conformity Assessment, ISO

16:00 ñ 16:15 Coffee break

16:15 ñ 17:15 Session 5 – The role of government in supporting accessibility standards.
Public procurement, regulations, and incentives in support of accessibility standards for ICTs.

Session Chair: Kevin Carey, Director, humanITy, and Vice Chair, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

* Survey of government actions in supporting accessibility, Cynthia D. Waddell, Executive Director, International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI)
* U.S. Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) work on accessibility standards, Jim Tobias, Co-chair, TEITAC and President, Inclusive Technologies
* EU work on accessibility standards, Inmaculada Placencia Porrero and Martina Sindelar, European Commission Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities

17:15 ñ 18:00 Conclusions, recommendations and suggested follow-up

Session Chair: His Excellency Luis Gallegos, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States; Past Chair of the UN General Assembly Ad-hoc Preparatory Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Chair, G3ict

1) Conclusions by session chairs
2) Feedback from Industry, Frances West, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
3) NGOs, Standards Development Organizations and Government leaders on follow-up steps

Summary of conclusions and recommendations, His Excellency Luis Gallegos, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States and Chair, G3ict

G3ict is a Flagship Advocacy Initiative of the
United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development
led by the Wireless Internet Institute
50 Hurt Plaza SE, Suite 806 Atlanta, GA 30303, U.S.A.
Tel: +1 404 446-4160 Fax: +1 404 446 4173
Web site: www.g3ict.com



The above announcement is taken in full from a notice circulated recently on the <a href=”http://www.worldbank.org/disability/gpddGlobal Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) listserv.

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NEWS: New Pakistani School Teaches Artificial Limb Preparation

Posted on 24 February 2008. Filed under: Mobility Impariments, News, South Asian Region, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pakistan now has its second training program for people who wish to learn how to produce artificial limb, the on-line publication Unique Pakistan has reported. The first center, in Peshawar, was established with the assistance of Germany 25 years ago.

Students at the new school in Sindh are to be trained for four years. Twenty-five students joined the first batch in January 2008. The Dow University Artifical Limb (DUAL) center already has provided prothesis limbs to several hundred clients.

Unfortunately, the article I consulted did not provide details on how people with amputations or birth conditions can obtain protheses in Pakistan. Nor did the article indicate how people interested in learning how to construct artificial limbs can apply to enroll in the program either in Peshawar or in Sindh. IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH EITHER PROGRAM, then your knowledge would be welcome. Please share what information you can in the comments area below.

Meanwhile, you can read the article by clicking on this link.

I tried searching for the Dow University Health Sciences (DUHS) on the web because it appears they are responsible for setting up this school. A Wikipedia page has some information about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dow_University_of_Health_Sciences

The Wikipedia page indicates that the DUHS web site is at

http://www.duhs.edu.pk/

When I tried it, I couldn’t accesss it. (It timed out.) I’m not sure if this is a permanent problem or a temporary problem. If you can’t access it either, please let me know. If I get enough complaints then I’ll just remove the link.



We Can Do found this article through an email circulated by Ghulam Nabi Nizamani.

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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. If you are reading this anywhere else, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people.

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NEWS: AIR Foundation Committed to Making Web Universally Accessible for Blind, Low-Vision People

Posted on 19 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, News, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Nonprofit Launched to Bring Free Accessibility Worldwide

The AIR Foundation committed to ‘accessibility is a right’

Orlando, Florida – January 31, 2008 – The AIR Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA was announced today at a press conference held during the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2008 National Conference at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. The mission of the foundation is to promote universal accessibility so that every blind and low-vision person in the world has access to digital information over the Internet and Worldwide Web.

The foundation’s executive director, Art Schreiber, also announced that the organization’s first offering will be free usage of a Web 2.0 accessible screen reader. The product is provided through an exclusive license in perpetuity granted to The AIR Foundation from Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and services. The screen reader is called SA To Go and is powered by Serotek’s award-winning System Access software which provides immediate text to speech, magnified visual, and Braille access to digital information presented through the Web or other means, while the user is directly connected to the Internet. The software does not remain resident on the user’s computer when the connection to the Internet is interrupted or terminated. Users can obtain access to the free software by calling 877-369-0101 or visiting www.AccessibilityIsaRight.org http://www.accessibilityisaright.org/

“The basic tenet of The AIR Foundation is that accessibility is a fundamental human right, regardless of financial or geographic constraints” said Art Schreiber, executive director of The AIR Foundation, “by allowing the blind and visually impaired to have equal access to computer and Internet information through the free use of an advanced screen reader like SA To Go, we have already taken great strides toward our mission.”

The AIR Foundation will solicit funds and contract development of product enhancements including availability in other languages. The organization’s first priority is to make SA To Go available in Mandarin Chinese.

“SA To Go is highly intuitive and requires minimal training to use,” said Serotek CEO, Mike Calvo, “the user not only has access to information displayed on Web pages, but to Web-based applications such as Internet telephone service, and to applications resident on the host computer. The user can also access PDF files, fill out forms, and otherwise interact with information with the same facility as a sighted person.”

The AIR Foundation will operate through the generosity of organizations donating their time, expertise, and funds. It invites other nonprofits, assistive technology vendors, mainstream hardware and software companies and anyone interested in promoting accessibility as every person’s right, to align with the AIR team.

The AIR Foundation
The AIR Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate, teach, and deliver information accessibility tools. We focus on the accessibility needs of blind and low-vision people. Our mantra is “accessibility is a right” and we work with corporations and agencies worldwide to deliver free accessibility to all. For more information, call 877-369-0101 or visit http://www.accessibilityisaright.org/

Serotek Corporation
Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek launched the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit http://www.serotek.com/.



This press release was first posted at the Air Foundation web site. It has also been circulated on several on-line newsletters and mailing lists, incluing AdHoc_IDC, the DPI newsletter, and Intl-Dev.

People interested in technology for people with vision impairments may also wish to learn more about the Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen, which is a low-cost screenreader targeted at people in developing countries, or in information about low-cost, mechanical Braille writers.



Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (https://wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. If you are reading this anywhere OTHER THAN We Can Do, BlogAfrica, or RatifyNow, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people without their permission.

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CONFERENCE: Dubai Rehabilitation International Forum

Posted on 1 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, Middle East and North Africa, Opportunities, Rehabilitation, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Taken from the Rehab Dubai 2008 web site:

The 6th edition of Dubai International Rehabilitation Forum – REHAB Dubai 2008 will be held from 10-12 March 2008 at the prestigious Dubai international Exhibition Center – one of the best exhibition venues in the world.

The first five editions of REHAB Dubai have raised the profile of disability and rehabilitation issues in the Arab region. This is witnessed in the growing number of conferences, institution of university courses, standardization of rehabilitation services, creation of infra-structural facilities for the disabled, promotion of tourism for the disabled and greater coverage by the media of disabled persons and issues concerning them.

The exhibition will showcase the latest rehabilitation products and services from different parts of the world. REHAB DUBAI is the only platform in the Middle East that will match both investors, suppliers /providers and consumers under one roof to help them arranging B2B meetings and direct face to face contacts which will result in emerging new markets & close long term deals.

The conference will include speakers and workshops on topics such as the rights of people with disabilities; alternative medicine for rehabilitation; psychological support for people with special needs; assistive technology; employment of people with special needs; inclusive education; sports rehabilitation; and art therapy.

There will also be a job fair meant to showcase employment opportunities for people with disabilities in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Learn more about the conference at the Rehab Dubai 2008 web site.



We Can Do first learned of this conference by browsing the World Bank page on News, Events and Disability. Most of the text for this blog post is taken from the Rehab Dubai 2008 web site.



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CALL FOR PAPERS: Human Security, Social Cohesion and Disability

Posted on 29 January 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Cross-Disability, Disability Studies, Disaster Planning & Mitigation, Human Rights, Opportunities, Policy & Legislation, Poverty, technology, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Call for Papers – Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal (www.rds.hawaii.edu)

Human Security, Social Cohesion and Disability

Guest Editors: Gregor Wolbring, Program in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary;

Anita Ghai, Department of Psychology Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi;

Kirk Allison, Program in Human Rights and Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota;

Human security and social cohesion are two central requisites for the medical and social well being of disabled people. Science and technology (S&T) advances often seen as essential for disabled people also impact on human security and on social cohesion. Human security according to the Commission on Human Security is concerned with safeguarding and expanding people’s vital freedoms. It requires both shielding people from acute threats and empowering people to take charge of their own lives. The Commission identified economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, political security, freedom from fear, and freedom from want as primary concerns.

Social cohesion in very general terms means: All that which brings people together (European New Towns Platform). In Canada the following description is in use: “Social cohesion is the ongoing process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunity within Canada, based on a sense of trust, hope and reciprocity among all Canadians.” (Jeannotte and Sharon, 2001). This has also been articulated complementarily in terms of social capital which has been defined among others as “features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit” (Putnam 1995).

More about the concepts can be found in the below references:

  • Gregor Wolbring (2006). Human Security and NBICS http://www.innovationwatch.com/choiceisyours/choiceisyours.2006.12.30.htm
  • Gregor Wolbring (2007). NBICS and Social Cohesion http://www.innovationwatch.com/choiceisyours/choiceisyours-2007-01-15.htm
  • Caroline Beauvais and Jane Jenson.(2002) Social Cohesion: Updating the State of Research. Canadian Policy, Research Networks, Canadian Heritage, Ottawa. http://www.cprn.com/doc.cfm?doc=167&l=en
  • European New Towns Platform. (2005). “The Top 8 Specific Challenges for Social Cohesion in New Towns.” http://www.newtowns.net/themes
  • Definitions of Social Capital http://www.analytictech.com/networks/definitions_of_social_capital.htm
  • Social Captial Initiative, Working Paper 1, 1998, http://go.worldbank.org/W8FMEK6FR0
  • We are honored that the theme for an issue of The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal will be human security, social cohesion and disability. This topic is chosen because the discourse around human security and social cohesion is of central importance for disability studies and for the well-being of persons with disabilities. At the same time discourses in disability studies can crucially clarify and test the discourses of human security and social cohesion.

    Thus, we urge potential contributors, regardless of their fields of training, to articulate their ideas about human security, social cohesion and disability. We especially encourage contributors to envision:

    • Future threats to human security and social cohesion including threats linked to new and emerging sciences and technologies processes and products and their impact on disabled people.
    • How disability studies discourses have generated tools and will continue to generate tools which can be used to minimize future threats to social cohesion and human security.
    • Other possible prevention strategies and fixes to possible future threat to human security and social cohesion.

    We encourage the submission of empirical case studies and theoretical models and we especially encourage contributions which cover the topic from a low income country background.

    Potential contributors to this Special Issue might consider:

    1. What is the “disability,” the discrimination angle of human security and social cohesion?
    2. What is the body image angle of human security and social cohesion?
    3. What is the importance of the disability studies angle on human security and social cohesion for other marginalized groups, for the marginalized majority of the world?
    4. What are potential future threats to human security and social cohesion and what would the impact be on disabled people?
    5. What are the cultural angles of human security and social cohesion?
    6. What is the role and potential of law?
    7. What empirical evidence and theoretical models illuminate the processes and effects?
    8. What is the impact of emerging social concepts such as transhumanism, which is?
    9. What is the impact of new and emerging sciences and technologies?
    10. What role does or could disability studies be playing in the interaction between new and emerging sciences and technologies and human security and social cohesion?
    11. How do or do not the human security and social cohesion discourses serve the needs of disabled people?
    12. What are the connections between human security and violent conflict?
    13. What are the relationships between development and poverty reduction, human security, and the prevention of violent conflict?
    14. What is the impact of natural disasters on those with disabilities in terms of security and cohesion
    15. How can social capital be discussed in context of disabled people, human security and social cohesion?

    Send via email 250-word abstracts, by March 31st, 2008 to Guest Editors Gregor Wolbring gwolbrin@ucalgary.ca ; Anita Ghai anita.satyapal@gmail.com and Kirk Allison alli0001@umn.edu. Please be sure to send abstracts to all editors. For those abstracts that are selected, we will request completed articles of approximately 3000-5000 words two months after the note of invitation to submit a full article was sent. Note that an invitation to submit an article based on an abstract does not guarantee publication of that article in The Review of Disability Studies.

    For more information about The Review of Disability Studies, please go to www.rds.hawaii.edu



    We Can Do received this announcement via the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) email distribution list, which can be joined for free.

    The Review of Disability Studies journal has been featured before at We Can Do: see an earlier, more generic call for papers at RDS, or see a listing of previous RDS articles relevant to people with disabilities in developing countries, with abstracts.

    Check for other calls for papers.



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    News at Your Fingertips

    Posted on 30 December 2007. Filed under: autism, Blind, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Commonwealth Nations, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Cross-Disability, Deaf, Democratic Participation, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education, Employment, Families, Funding, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Inclusion, Introduction to "We Can Do", Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Reports, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology, Women |

    I have now added a page to the top navigation bar, News, that consolidates all the news and press releases posted at We Can Do since this blog began.

    I mostly cribbed this new page from the work I did recently for the We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some). However, if you compare the two, you will see that there are more items listed under the “News” page in the top navigation bar than there are in the Retrospective post. That’s because, when I wrote the Retrospective post, I made a rule with myself that each We Can Do post would be listed only once, even if it arguably belonged in more than one category. Some of the “news” items reported new resources that might still be helpful for readers months or years from now. So I listed those items under “Resources” in the Retrospective post instead of news. But for the “News” page in the navigation bar, I made sure to include anything that was tagged as “news” when it was first posted.

    I will try to keep the “News” page up to date. You will notice that it already includes one news item that has gone up since the Retrospective post.



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    We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some)

    Posted on 22 December 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Arts, autism, Blind, Call for Papers, Case Studies, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Commonwealth Nations, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Cross-Disability, Deaf, Democratic Participation, Disability Studies, Disaster Planning & Mitigation, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education, Education and Training Opportunities, Employment, Events and Conferences, Families, Fellowships & Scholarships, Funding, Guest Blogger, Health, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigration, Inclusion, Interpreting, Introduction to "We Can Do", Jobs & Internships, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Opinion, Opportunities, Policy & Legislation, Poverty, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation, Remittances, Reports, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology, Violence, Volunteer Opportunities, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Skip introduction, go straight to the Table of Contents

    If you’re new to We Can Do, what interesting information, news, or resources might you have overlooked from the past few months? Although some older items may no longer be interesting, others may still be relevant and helpful a year or three from now. This post can help guide you through the first 100-plus posts at this blog. You can click from the table of contents below to any section of this page that interests you–and then another click on “table of contents” can take you back to the contents, or “top of this page” takes you back to this introduction.

    Top of this page


    Table of Contents

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    About We Can Do

    To learn more about the purpose of We Can Do, see About We Can Do. For more on its guiding philosophy, go to Why We Can Do.

    Thinking about submitting your own written materials, job posts, conference announcements, or resources to We Can Do? Check the Wish list for written materials and resources.

    Want to receive an alert in email when a new post goes up at We Can Do? You can Subscribe to We Can Do for free.

    I changed the organization and appearance of We Can Do in early October to its present format.

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    The Five Most Popular We Can Do posts

    The five listed here are the ones that have attracted the most “page views” since We Can Do began in late July. You may notice that not all of these are featured in the 10 “most popular posts” listed in the right-hand navigation bar. That’s because the navigation bar only lists posts that have received a lot of traffic very recently (I think within the past few days; its done automatically by wordpress so I’m not sure how it works). But here I’m listing the five that have the highest TOTAL page views.

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    The Five Most Under-Rated We Can Do posts

    Are these posts really under-rated? You’ll have to read them and decide for yourself. But in choosing these five, I used two criteria: 1. These are posts that have received fewer than 100 visitors–sometimes far fewer. 2. These are posts that I think could be helpful or interesting to readers and maybe deserve more attention than they have gotten. These are in no particular order:

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    Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies or Helpful Organizations

    Finding organizations; Resources for inclusive development; Human rights resources; Case studies; Other helpful resources

    Finding organizations
    Mainstream international development agencies sometimes say that they don’t know how to find people with disabilities, or their representative organizations, in the developing countries where they work. Reviewing the July post entitled Finding Local Disability Organizations may help point you in the right direction. Also see Disability Organizations in Afghanistan, Asia, Kenya, Uganda.

    Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) sometimes aren’t sure where to find mainstream development organizations and resources that might be willing to collaborate with them.

    There is an international network of organizations for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome.

    Top of Finding practical resources; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Resources for Inclusive Development
    Both disability advocates and mainstream development organizations want to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind when countries and organizations fight poverty or improve public health, education, water, and other services. But it can be a challenge to figure out how to make projects and government policies more inclusive. The following resources can help:

    Top of Finding practical resources; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Resources on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    By now, you may be aware that a global movement is taking place to ratify the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Many relevant resources are now being produced in relation to the CRPD, some of which have been posted or featured here at We Can Do:

  • Read the CRPD “translated” into plain English.
  • UNICEF has developed a child-friendly version of the CRPD to help children understand disability rights
  • Disabled People International offers two toolkits on ratifying and implementing the CRPD for disability advocates who want to help ensure that all disabled people have their human rights recognized.
  • A handbook on disability rights targeted at parliamentarians can help parliamentarians, people who work in close contact with government agencies, and disability advocates in general, better understand the CRPD.
  • The United Nations’ new web site, UN Enable, is one of the best, and most official, places to find information on the CRPD.
  • Handicap International has produced its own Teaching Kit on the CRPD.
  • The International Disability Equality Agency (IDEA) has issued Equalize It! A Manifesto for Disability Equality in Development Cooperation that expresses their position on how to ensure disability equality in the international development field.
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    Case Studies
    Reviewing case studies of projects implemented elsewhere can be a valuable source of ideas that could help you figure out how to run or implement your own projects. I would love to post many more best-practice and failed-practice case studies than I have available right now. If you think you have something worth sharing, please check my Wish List of Written Materials and Resource and contact me at ashettle [at] patriot.net.

    But for now, here are two case studies:

    Top of Finding practical resources; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Other Helpful Resources

    Top of Finding practical resources; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Finding Useful Sources of Information and Research

    Finding academic research, papers, resources, or statistics
    Looking for academic research and academic papers; resources that can be used by people working in the field; or sources of statistics? Some of the following posts may be helpful:

    Information on people with disabilities
    Interested in learning about the living conditions of people with disabilities in specific nations, or in specific thematic areas? Some of the following may be of interest:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Funding Sources

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Academic Papers

    We Can Do has published, or re-published, academic papers, or linked to same, on a range of subjects, including:

    Table of Contents; Top of this page

    News

    September 2007; October 2007; November 2007; Early December 2007

    September 2007
    At one point in September, the international disability community prematurely thought we might be On the Verge of Making History by ratifying the disability rights community.

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    October 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    November 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Early December 2007

    Top of News; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Opinion Pieces

    So far, the opinion pieces here are all by me. But I would like for We Can Do to be host to an active exchange of ideas and differing perspectives. If you have a strong opinion about something, please consider submitting it. Yes, that includes opinions that disagree with mine! Consult the Wish list for written materials and resources for ideas of the kinds of topics I’m trying to cover at We Can Do.

    Meanwhile, here are a few of my own opinion pieces:

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    Call for Papers (for Conferences, Journals, Other)

    You might be just now starting your academic career as an undergraduate or graduate student. Or perhaps you have been doing quantitative or qualitative research, or writing policy analysis, or case studies, or social analysis, for years. Either way, if you’re looking for opportunities to present, publish, or otherwise disseminate your papers or run a workshop, then check out these upcoming or ongoing opportunities:

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    International Conferences and Events

    Looking for a conference to attend? Here are a few upcoming events:
    January 2008; February 2008; March 2008; April 2008; May 2008; August 2008; September 2008; November 2008

    January 2008
    The South Asian Conference on Autism is being held in New Delhi, India in January 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    February 2008

  • The Disabilities Initiatives in Development Seminar, also in Bangladesh also in February 2008.
  • One for all: Persons with Disabilities Initiative in Development, again in Bangladesh in February 2008.
  • The International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK is holding a conference on sign language research in the UK in February 2008.
  • A conference on the deaf community, sign languages, social issues, civil rights, and creativity will be held on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA.
  • The Techshare India 2008 Conference on accessibility will be held in New Delhi, India, in February 2008.
  • Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    March 2008
    The 8th annual meeting of the Gulf Disability Society will meet in United Arab Emirates in March 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    April 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    May 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    August 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    September 2008

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    November 2008
    The Association on Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)’s International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. A call for proposals is open until January 28, 2008.

    Top of International Conferences and Events; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Jobs, Internships, Volunteer Opportunities

    We Can Do will probably never be a comprehensive job-board. Serious job, internship, or volunteer placement hunters will want to explore other means of finding opportunities. For example, jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities in the international field generally, or in the disability field generally, can sometimes be found at www.idealist.org. But I do occasionally happen to come across a job announcement. Here are a few that may still be open to applications:

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    Education and Training Opportunities

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    Missed Opportunities

    Missed call for papers; Missed training opportunities; Missed job, internship, and volunteer opportunities; Missed events and conferences

    Some of the material I post at We Can Do is time-sensitive material. That means the conferences announced here have come and gone; job posts have been filled; and deadlines are over. So, if it’s too late for you to do anything about any of the following announcements, then why bother listing them? First, some conference organizers issue compilations of papers and presentations or other interesting materials after their event is over. If a topic interests you, it may be worth communicating with event organizers to see if any follow-up publications are available. Second, organizations that offer one conference, job opportunity, call for papers, etc., may offer something similar in the future. Many conferences, for example, meet every one, two, three, or four years. Monitoring, joining, or communicating with organizations of interest to you could help ensure that you learn about the next opportunity in time to plan for it.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Call for Papers
    The German Journal for Disability and Development called for papers on art and disabilities to be submitted by the end of November 2007.

    Also browse through the listing of upcoming conferences and missed conferences.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Training Opportunities

    In October 2007, the International Labour Organisation had a training course for professionals from developing countries.

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities
    Remember that it is too late to apply for these specific opportunities. These are listed here in case you want to check out the sponsoring organizations for future opportunities like these:

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    Missed Event and Conference Opportunities

    Top of Missed Opportunities; Table of Contents; Top of this page

    What’s Next for We Can Do?

    I am not yet satisfied with We Can Do. I still see many gaps that I want to repair. I want to find, and post, more materials of a pragmatic nature. By which I mean, material that people in the field can put to immediate use in improving the lives of disabled people in developing countries. If you think you can help me locate helpful materials, please review my Wish list for written materials and resources and contact me.

    I also want to reach more development professionals at mainstream development organizations and more employees and volunteers at international disability organizations. And I want to reach more small DPOs and individual advocates in more developing countries. The knowledge shared at We Can Do cannot help until it is brought to people with disabilities living in poverty in developing countries. That “final mile” can only be bridged by readers like YOU.

    If you want to help, I hope you will consider telling your colleagues and contacts about We Can Do. If you run a web site or a blog, please consider linking to We Can Do at https://wecando.wordpress.com. If you have the skills, the time, and the commitment to launch a We Can Do mirror site translation into some other language, please talk to me (leave a comment or email me at ashettle [at] patriot.net). And please do feel free to print out the more helpful We Can Do posts to share with people you know in developing countries who do not have easy access to the Internet.

    For those of you who like numbers: We Can Do had 285 page views in July; 851 in August; 1305 in September; 2936 in October; 4862 in November; and more than 5100 in the first three weeks of December. And who is responsible for making these numbers happen? Why—you, of course! So, thank you for visiting We Can Do.

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    Accessibility CONFERENCE: Techshare India 2008

    Posted on 18 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Events and Conferences, Inclusion, South Asian Region, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Techshare India 2008 Conference titled “Breaking the Barriers” is a conference and exhibition on accessibility targeted at people with disabilities, the corporate and government sectors, non-government organizations (NGOs), educators, and product producers. The conference will be held February 4 and 5, 2008, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

    The conference is meant to allow participants to share insights and knowledge; network with professionals in the field from around the world; and meet people with disabilities working with assistive technology at the first known Experiential Lab at Techshare India. This is a pan-disability (i.e., all disabilities) conference and exhibition aimed at addressing barriers present in the mindset of people; infrastructure; education; and technology. The goal is to break down barriers and include people with disabilities into mainstream society.

    To learn more, please go to http://www.barrierbreak.com/conferenceregistration.php

    Need funding to attend conferences like this one? Be aware that available funding will be limited and cannot help everyone. Each funding source has its own criteria for determining who is or isn’t eligible for possible funding and for what purposes, so read carefully. Information at https://wecando.wordpress.com/2007/11/29/funding-for-conference-participation-from-developing-nations/



    We Can Do learned about this conference via the free, weekly electronic newsletter from Disabled People International (DPI).



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    Intl CONFERENCE on Rehab Engineering & Assistive Technology

    Posted on 14 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Events and Conferences, Rehabilitation, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Announcing i-CREATe 2008, 2nd International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology – will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 13 – 15 May, 2008. Visit the i-CREATe 2008 http://www.start-centre.com/i-create2008/ for more information.

    i-CREATe has a Conference element, and all accepted full conference papers will be published and indexed in the ACM Digital Library and Electronic Indexed. Selected best papers will also be included in the Special Issue of Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology Journal published by Taylor & Francis ( http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/17483107.asp). Papers and proposals can be submitted through January 31, 2008.

    The inaugural i-CREATe 2007 ( http://www.start-centre.com/i-create2007) was formally launched by Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Kingdom of Thailand, and Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Republic of Singapore, on 24th April 2007; for i-CREATe 2008, HRH will also be gracing the event as GOH and to launch the event.

    Need funding assistance to attend conferences like this one? See information on Funding for Conference Participation from Developing Nations. Be aware that for any foundation, money will be limited. This means probably only a few applicants will be able to obtain funding.


    We Can Do received this conference announcement via Mr. Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, Vice Chair of DPI-AP and Co-Founder and President of SDF Pakistan. I have slightly modified it from the original.


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    NEWS: Enabling Blind to Read Computers in Africa, Other Developing Regions

    Posted on 11 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Latin America & Caribbean, News, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Sightsavers Dolphin Pen – For developing countries

    What is Sightsavers Dolphin Pen?

    The Sightsavers Dolphin Pen is a low-cost, lightweight pen drive with a screen magnifier and screen reader, designed to benefit those living in some of the world’s poorest communities. It enables visually impaired people in Africa and other developing regions to gain the same access to computers as sighted people – and so to develop their skills and employment prospects.

    This is an exciting venture because it is the first time a world-ranked assistive technology manufacturer has collaborated with an NGO (non-government organisation) to make high-quality product such as this available at cost price to eligible overseas projects.

    Robin Spinks of Sightsavers International says: “Blind and low vision computer users can now carry their assistive software on a pen drive and use it on any PC. This represents a huge step forward for visually impaired computer users in developing countries.”

    Users can take magnification and speech with them to any PC.
    Easy to use and quick to set up. Simply plug in and go.
    Lightweight yet robust. Fits in a pocket.
    Gives independence to produce documents, send email and surf the web.
    Will be made available in schools and universities wherever possible.

    The pen will be available in eligible African countries and in other eligible countries in Asia (both Eastern Asia and Southern Asia); Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Latin America and the Caribbean.

    For more information:

    http://www.yourdolphin.com/productdetail.asp?id=27&utm_source=SSdolphinpenKenya&utm_medium=email


    Most of the text for this blog post is taken from the Dolphin Pen web site. We Can Do first learned about the Dolphin Pen through an announcement distributed on the Intl-Dev email news distribution list.


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    OPINION: One Laptop per Child—But is it Inclusive?

    Posted on 16 November 2007. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Opinion, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Issue
    Bringing laptops to children in developing countries. It’s a nifty concept, meant to help with an enormous challenge: improving the quality of education in developing countries. But is it inclusive of children with disabilities?

    Even relatively casual observers of the international development field quickly learn that 77 million children worldwide are not in primary school. And perhaps you also knew that a large portion of those children have disabilities. What we don’t hear about as often is that even the 2 billion children who are fortunate enough to be able to enter a classroom, in many cases, may not be that much better off. The push to put all children in school by 2015, as per the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), has led to more schools, more teachers, and more books—but not necessarily to a better-quality education. So how do we go beyond filling seats with bodies so we can start filling heads with knowledge?

    The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project thinks they have part of the answer. That’s to put a laptop into the hands of every child in school in developing nations. Not just any laptop, but the XO laptop. The XO is designed specifically for child learners. It has features that allow them to create—be it a picture, a poem, a game, or a computer program. And XO laptops can communicate directly with other XO laptops if they are close enough. That allows for collaborative projects among pairs or groups of students. The laptops are also designed to be used in rugged conditions. They can be used in places where classes might meet outside in bright sunlight, or where students may have no access to electricity.

    In developing countries, one of the largest barriers to obtaining resources—be it for disabled people or for their non-disabled peers—is cost. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has tackled this, at least part way, by producing a laptop that costs $200. That’s twice as much as their original goal—which was to design a $100 laptop. And that’s still out of reach for any family that lives on less than $1 a day. But it’s within reach for some country governments. Uruguay, for example, has purchased the first 100,000 XOs to come off the assembly line (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7068084.stm). And there may soon be other countries standing in line. The OLPC project has also introduced several ways that people in rich countries can help (see http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php). If things grow quickly from here, we could soon see the day when millions of children are learning through XO laptops and any competitors that might later emerge.

    But for children with disabilities, the question of whether someone can and will send them a laptop in the first place is only the first half of the problem. The second half is whether the laptop is even accessible to them.

    XO Laptops: Are They Suitable for Young Disabled Students?
    I should note here that I have not yet seen an XO laptop for myself. Nor am I an expert in the types of adaptations that are available or most needed by people who are blind, or who have mobility impaired—or, indeed, any disability other than deafness. That means I can’t give an accurate evaluation of how usable an XO laptop is for disabled children. But I can speculate. And given how large the OLCP project hopes to become, I suggest that anyone with an interest in educating disabled children in developing countries should also be speculating. More importantly, they should be sharing their insights and ideas for remedies with the OLPC project.

    On the plus side, some disabled children may find that the laptops will be a tremendous boon for them. For example, the XO is sturdier and more durable than most standard, western computers. That could be an important feature for children whose disabilities affect their behavior. They might be less likely to damage the laptop if they throw it during a tantrum or a “meltdown”, for example. Or a child with mobility impairments or dyspraxia can worry less if they drop their laptop.

    Also, I like how the XO laptop allows for interactive communication with other laptop users. For children who have communication-related disabilities and who have learned to read and write, it might make communication with their non-disabled peers a little easier. Instead of being forced to talk or read lips in a modality that works poorly for them–if at all–they could have the option of typing back and forth with their classmates or the teacher. This could be especially helpful in situations where no sign language interpreter is available, which is frequently the case in developing countries. I don’t think the XO will ever be a substitute for more appropriate educational placements. (I believe that most deaf children should be in good quality, specialized schools for deaf children. But that’s a subject for another blog post.) But for deaf children who have been thrust into classrooms with no means of understanding their teacher, the laptop could potentially become a tool for teaching themselves, perhaps with the aid of their peers.

    But even deaf children, if they are learning alongside hearing peers, may feel left out when their classmates start playing around with the built-in microphone and other auditory-based features. And other disabled children may find the XO laptops to be so inaccessible as to be useless. I suspect that blind children and some children with low vision—as with most computers generally—may suffer the most significant barriers. From what I can gather from their web site, the XO seems to have a very visual interface. That’s great for sighted deaf children, but bad for blind children. There seems to be no provision for screen readers of any kind: a blind child could still type but would have no way to monitor what they are typing or to read it back later. And unless there is some audio feature that I didn’t read about, the heavy graphics would be meaningless to them. That might make it harder for a child with vision impairments to interact with other students in the class. If I understand correctly, a child who wants to work on a project with someone else through the XO needs to bring up an icon representing their classmate and click it.

    I also wonder about children with certain mobility impairments, particularly those that affect the use of their hands. As far as I can tell from the OLPC web site, there are no modified keyboards available. In other words, one design fits all—even when it doesn’t. And it’s not just the keyboard that might pose a problem. One of the ways to power up an XO is to either pull on a cord or operate a foot pump—either of which might be problematic for children with certain mobility impairments. What if a child could operate one type of battery re-charger but not the other? If a country buys all of its laptops in one variety, a child may not have the option of switching to equipment that is more usable for them.

    Why Inclusion Matters–From the Beginning
    Children with disabilities already face enormous barriers in even reaching the classroom. And many face even more barriers inside it. The XO laptop is meant to help bring the world of learning to poor children in developing nations. But for many children with disabilities, the XO laptop, as currently designed, may create new barriers to learning instead of removing them. What is especially worrying to me is that nowhere in their web site does OLPC even acknowledge the problem much less discuss what they’re doing to resolve it. (Or if they do and I missed it, tell me in the comments area below—their site is at www.laptop.org.)

    The usual excuse made when a new project excludes disabled people, is, “But we’re new. We’re just starting. We had to start somewhere. We’re not ready for doing anything more specialized right now.” There are two major problems with accepting this type of excuse. First is the issue of justice. People with disabilities have always been the last people to gain access to any new technology or service. As soon as one technology is finally made at least partly accessible, something new has become mainstream to everyone else—but, once again, not for disabled people. By the time innovative deaf people in rich countries finally managed to invent a way to access telephones, for example, all their hearing, middle-class neighbors had color television–while deaf people were, once again, waiting. The delay between the time a new technology or service becomes available to non-disabled people and the time it becomes available to disabled people, in and of itself, creates barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in society. There will always be something new. And, even with advancing medical technology, there will probably always be disabled people. We will only be fully included in society when new things, too, are accessible to us from the first day they become available to the public at wide. After all, aren’t we, too, supposed to be members of the public?

    The second problem with accepting the “but it’s new, give us time” excuse is that this is backwards thinking. It is PRECISELY BECAUSE a technology or project is new that the people designing it SHOULD be thinking from the start about the needs of people with disabilities. Suppose you construct a building with stairs and no ramps, then you tear part of it down in order to add the ramps years later, that’s expensive. If you remember the needs of people with disabilities while you’re still working in the blueprint stage then you can make sure it has ramps to begin with, and you can integrate the ramps into the design in a way that saves money. That’s very, very cheap. If you build 100,000 computers for Uruguay with no screen readers, and then belatedly construct a few separate devices to be attached to them later as needed, that’s expensive.

    But what if they had given consideration to the needs of blind or dyslexic students, or children with other disabilities, from the beginning? Yes, it probably would have been an enormous challenge to find a way to integrate their needs into the standard design of the XO laptop without significantly increasing its cost. But if they had at least tried—even if they had tried and failed—then if nothing else, we could have been a good five years of research and development closer to achieving an XO that does succeed in including disabled children. And not only that, but it might have been cheaper than whatever add-on fix they come up with now. Or, even if they hadn’t come up with a concept that could be integrated into the standard design, they might at least have come up with design elements that make it easier to add on a fix later. What if they come up with a nice, cheap screen reader, only to find that there isn’t a good way to plug it into the existing XO laptops?

    Or perhaps they could have come up with creative design elements that help, not only disabled students, but everyone. After all, curb cuts were implemented for wheelchair riders, but were quickly embraced by non-disabled parents with prams or baby carriages. Closed captions were invented to enable deaf people in rich countries to watch television, but have also been embraced by hearing immigrants learning the language of their new home. Speech recognition software for computers was invented, at least in part, for people who cannot type with their hands, but has been embraced by others as well. What kind of XO would we have had today if they hadn’t thrown away five years of opportunity to find out?

    Owning the Issue
    Two groups of people need take responsibility for ensuring that the built in exclusion of disabled children in developing countries does not last. First are the people operating the One Laptop Per Child project. If they’re serious about bringing laptops to all two billion children in school, then they would do well to remember that about 10 percent of the world’s population—including children in developing countries—have disabilities. They need to decide whether “all” will truly mean “all,” or if “all” really means “all except disabled children because they’re too difficult to include.”

    The obligation doesn’t end with the One Laptop Per Child project, but it does begin with them: they need to be proactive. To start with, they should reach out to organizations of disabled adults and children in developing countries to share the laptop with them and find out exactly what problems they face in using it. They can begin with some of the organizations listed in “Finding Local Disability Organizations” for possible contacts. They should be talking with disabled adults, because people who have already been adapting to their own disabilities for a whole lifetime often see obvious solutions that elude everybody else. And they should be talking with parents and teachers who may notice barriers that even disabled users miss. But most importantly of all, they should be talking with disabled children in developing countries—because the best person to tell us what a disabled child needs is a disabled child.

    Also, they should mention the problem of accessibility for children with disabilities throughout their web site, where appropriate. In particular, where they recruit volunteers, they should be specifically asking for people who can help make the laptop more usable for children with a wide range of disabilities. But even in other parts of their web site, for example where they talk about its design features and their future design plans, they can acknowledge its existing limitations and explain how they hope to overcome them. Possibly they could also have a separate page devoted to the topic of accessibility—but this is not a substitute for integration. “Add-on” issues rarely get the attention they deserve: if it’s important, then the organization’s concern for the issue should reverberate through everything they say and do.

    Second are people around the world who are already committed to bringing more disabled children in developing countries into the classroom and giving them a high-quality education. That means parents, educators, disabled advocates, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties. People who have direct experience with the XO laptop can give their feedback to the One Laptop Per Child project. Others can review their web site and offer their advice or consultation services.

    I think the One Laptop Per Child program is a good concept and a good cause worth supporting—even with its current flaws. That’s exactly why I urge them to become a more inclusive cause as well. I hope they listen—and take action.

    Nicholas Negroponte and the other staff at OLPC: it’s over to you, now.


    The facts, figures, and information behind the opinions expressed in this essay come from a range of sources. Most particularly I drew upon the OLPC web site, but you will also note that I link to a number of other sources throughout this article.

    Edited 17 Nov. ’07 to add: Eduardo Silva points out (thank you for alerting me) that interested readers can go to http://wiki.laptop.org to see some of the software work that is being done to improve the XO laptop. And as Eduardo Silva indicates, they are indeed working on a text-to-voice screen reader, which you can read about at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Screen_Reader. However, I still have some concerns about this which I elaborate upon further in the comments area below.

    Edited 31 Dec. ’07 to add: I wonder if a Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen would help blind children make better use of the XO. Is there anyone reading this who is familiar with BOTH the XO AND with the Dolphin Pen (a low-cost screen reader and screen magnifier designed for use in low-income countries)? If so, I would value your input. Please do comment in the comments area below.

    Edited 5 Jan. ’08 to add: THANK YOU to the anonymous contributer in the comments area below who led me to the accessibility mailing list for people who want to brainstorm ideas and solutions on how to make the XO more accessible.


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    CONFERENCE: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

    Posted on 15 October 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Cognitive Impairments, Events and Conferences, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Most of the text for this announcement is taken from the web site for the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC).

    Certain types of disabilities, such as deafness, speech impairment, cerebral palsy, autism, or auditory processing disorders can affect the way a person communicates. Certain technologies and strategies can enable people with these or other disabilities to communicate with each other and the wider world. These technologies and strategies are collectively referred to as “augmentative and alternative communication.”

    “Leading the way” is the theme of ISAAC’s 13th biennial meeting, which will be held in Montréal, Canada in August 2008. ISAAC and its members have been leaders in AAC around the world for almost 25 years! ISAAC officially began in 1983 with a small group of individuals and has grown into an organization that is recognized internationally for the expertise, dedication, and creativity of its members.

    We have much to celebrate in 2008, ISAAC’s 25th anniversary. The field of AAC has changed enormously in the last 25 years, and will continue to evolve in the future. Technological advances and new perspectives on human communication have shaped the evolution of AAC. Individuals who use AAC for their daily communication have increasingly taken on leadership roles in many different ways. Examples of leadership will be showcased as part of the 2008 conference program.Papers, presentations, and discussions of research projects, clinical and educational concerns, and issues of interest to individuals who use AAC systems will round out the program.

    The conference committees are preparing an exceptional event! In addition to the exciting main conference program, there will be pre-conference workshops on current topics in AAC, and the research symposium following the main conference will be a must for AAC researchers. Montréal is the perfect site for the 2008 conference. A city with an interesting history and a bright future, Montréal is a lively place to visit, especially in the summertime. There will be opportunities to take advantage of all Montréal has to offer!

    We are looking forward to welcoming ISAAC to Montréal in 2008!
    See you there!

    Your conference co-chairs,
    Ann Sutton and Jeff Riley
    isaac2008@jpdl.com

    Pre-conference workshops will be held August 2 and 3, 2008. The main conference will be August 4 to 7. A research symposium will be held August 8 and 9. A reduced registration fee is available for individuals who use augmentative or alternative communication systems, students, and individuals from developing countries. However, the conference is not able to provide financial assistance.

    Please note that, at this time, ISAAC chapters all seem to be located in industrialized countries. We Can Do is unable to determine the extent to which workshop presentations would be sensitized to the needs and challenges of people using augmentative or alternative communication methods in developing countries. Those who are interested in the conference should explore their web site at http://www.isaac2008.org/index.html. Remaining concerns or questions should be directed to the conference organizers at:

    ISAAC 2008 Conference Secretariat – JPdL
    isaac2008@jpdl.com
    1555 Peel, Suite 500
    Montréal (Québec) H3A 3L8, Canada

    Tel: +1 (514) 287-1070
    Fax: +1 (514) 287-1248


    If you have been to We Can Do before then you may have noticed that this blog has a new appearance and structure. How do you like it? Do you find it easier, or harder, to navigate and find the information you’re looking for? Any other feedback on how to improve the We Can Do blog in general? Whether you’re a new-comer or repeat visitor, please share your thoughts in the comments area at the post where I describe We Can Do’s new presentation or email me at ashettle at patriot dot net.


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